Impactful, dynamic, real. These are the words I think of when describing day two of the Hillsong Conference this year.
As much as the day was packed with great speakers and inspirational stories, the theme of the day was highlighted by Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church, who shared during one of the main sessions that "if you think this is all hype, you'll never see the heart behind this conference".
His words ring true as the conference continues to move forward into a new day.
A lot of things transpired on the second day of the conference, the most impactful being the Spheres' session; a bunch of speakers sharing their stories in about 15 minutes or less on how they impacted their sphere of influence in a lightning rod round. One of the highlights was Eloise Wellings, current Australian track runner for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio and founding director of Love Mercy Foundation.
Despite her attempts at fulfilling her childhood dream to be an Olympian, setbacks and struggles with constant injury and screening tests seemed to impede her dream, until she met a fellow Ugandan Olympian and began sponsoring children in Uganda. After three failed trials at the Olympics, she finally was able to use her failures as a catalyst for change, and is running for the Australian Olympic Team this year in Rio.
This thought of 'failing forward', as it were, was brought up many times during the day, especially in the main morning session where delegates were encouraged to use the "glitch" in your life to the glory of God. This idea of a glitch as a setback or impediment that one might see as a hindrance or punishment from God might actually be seen as a springboard for God-given opportunities in life to move forward was a great encouragement.
As we were encouraged to meet with others in the conference between sessions, I met with an American from Dallas attending the conference who was working in Japan but happened to be travelling in Australia this year.
I was quite amazed at his passion to see and to learn more than anything else at the conference, and his diligence to study the Word and sow into others' lives, not just in his work, but also in his travels, was a blessing to witness.
Many like him
However, not surprisingly, there are many like him that seem to pervade the Hillsong pavilion throughout the week of the conference, which is a great testament to Hillsong's commitment to seeing lives changed. Indeed, the ability to connect with so many who are able to have an impact on others in life, as well as ministry, is quite an encouragement.
This pivotal point in the conference as almost a mid-week reminder of what is to come is certainly set to be a great segue into the rest of the conference ahead.
One of the testimonies shared was from recent Eurovision runner up and Australian singing sensation Dami Im, who many might not know as a Christian, but has been attending Hillsong Conference since she was a teenager.
The authenticity of her testimony really stuck with me, and was a great example of Hillsong's ability to tap into all spheres of life and work, breaking down the barrier between sacred and secular, to see all of life as a canvas for God's inspiring work.
So beyond the hype of what might seem to be just another concert or theatrical performance, the Hillsong Conference is shaping up to be a heart-filled rendition of compassion and commitment to people from all walks of life simply seeking Christ's love.
Joseph Kolapudi is a third-culture-kid born in Australia to Indian parents, Joseph recently returned from California where he was studying theology, and has been working for the US Center for World Mission; his love of books and writing has now drawn him to Press Service International.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html